Churches screen movie in effort to bring it to theater

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 15, 2009

NATCHEZ — Local youth leaders, pastors and mentors throughout the Miss-Lou want to take over a screen in United Artists Natchez Mall 4 for a few weeks.

“To Save a Life,” a movie about the problems facing high school students in today’s society, will be opening in select cities across the nation on Jan. 22, but Natchez has been given the opportunity to show the movie early.

The movie is rated PG-13 and is tailored for high school students and their mentors and families.

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Edwin Samson, a missionary from California, is serving as youth director at Crosspoint Church and is one of the reasons Natchez was selected to show the movie.

“The writer and producer of the film is a friend of mine,” Samson said. “He told me if we were to screen the movie to people, he would push to get it here.”

In order to bring the movie to Natchez’s theater, the theater must agree to show it, and Samuel Goldwyn Entertainment must give their consent.

“We hope that it comes over,” Samson said.

The first screening was hosted at Crosspoint on Dec. 5, and Pastor Del Loy said he was impressed by not only the quality of the film, but by the reaction it received by those present.

Loy said unlike most Hollywood blockbusters with thematic elements, the movie was like looking into the life of a regular high schooler.

“(The movie) is extremely true to life. It’s not a movie that is bigger than life — this is very realistic,” Loy said. “It deals with everything from divorce, to cutting, to suicide, to peer pressure, to teen pregnancy — just about every issue kids go through, it’s in there.

“It’s a cut above what people expect of religious films,” Loy said.

Samson said he has already seen the affect the movie has had on those who have watched it.

“The screening (at Crosspoint) was amazing. Everybody that attended — high school student leaders, youth workers and youth pastors — there was almost not a dry eye at the screening,” Samson said.

After each screening, audience members have been asked for their opinions of the movie, and based on what he’s heard, Samson said he foresees the movie being a success.

“One person called it ‘a slice of my life in high school’ and was really moved by the fact that it was genuine for them,” Samson said.

First Baptist Church in Vidalia’s Youth Minister Dusty Carson said he’s heard more open discussion among his youth group members since some have seen the movie.

“For a lot of kids, (the movie) has challenged them in the way they treat people,” Carson said. “We’ve even had several kids tell us they’ve have thoughts about these issues.”

Monday night marked the most recent screening of the movie at First Baptist Church in Vidalia showed the movie to a crowd of approximately 50 people.

“This is a different movie at a different angle, and it’s reaching different people,” Carson said. “I’ve seen this movie twice, and it’s very real.”

Carson said so far, seven or eight churches in the area said they would support the movie and continue to ask the theater to show the movie.

“(The theater is) going to go ahead and request it (from Samuel Goldwyn Entertainment.) We’re taking a step in the right direction.”

But not only do local church leaders think the push to get “To Save A Life” to Natchez is moving in the right direction, they also think the movie will inspire their students and their parents.

“We want the local kids to see this movie and know there is hope with dealing with these situations,” Loy said. “They don’t have to fall into this cycle.”

Loy said the movie has a strong Christian core, but no denomination is favored over another.

But in order to get the film in Natchez, people have to show interest in it.

“We have to send in letters and phone calls (to the theater,)” Loy said. “We also have to guarantee the theater be full for a few showings.

“You have to guarantee it’s going to be a success for them to bring the movie here. I think we will be able to get it in Natchez. We’re currently working with the local theater,” Loy said.

To request the movie, interested viewers can visit and ask that the movie come to Natchez.

Calls and letters to the Natchez Mall Cinema IV are also encouraged.